I don't think getting published is like winning the lottery, because every ticket entered into a lottery has an equal chance of winning.
Now let's say you're a publisher and you receive two manuscripts. One tells a fascinating story, has interesting characters and doesn't have any major spelling or grammatical errors. It's also 80,000 words, the right length for books published by your company.
The other manuscript is 300,000 words, well outside the length of books you can affordably publish. It's rambling, poorly spelled and a pain to read, let alone finish.
Do you need to flip a coin to decide which manuscript you'll accept?
Likewise, if you write a great story that's edited carefully and within the publisher's guidelines, you're already within the top ten per cent of manuscripts they receive. That's not to say it's easy - the example I gave was a greatly simplified version of what publishers receive. But it's not a lottery either.
You can bring your first chapter over to http://nightreading.ning.com.
Night Reading is a site for authors to chat together and support each other. Each month we publish the winner of the competition plus 4 other books, regardless of commercial potential.
We are interested in unusual, quirky, adventurous writing.
It is possible to get a mass publisher to be interested in your work, but it is very difficult and unusual. There are plenty of smaller publishers around who typical offer 50/50 royalty deals with no advance.
We also offer the 50/50 royalty deal and you keep all your rights. However, realise that the average sales of a book in its lifetime is 100. We have one which has sold 35,000, and another which is selling 20-30 a day, but selling 100 copies is much more likely. For romance books, however, you can get thousands of free downloads from Smashwords, and even more cross-category books can get hundreds of free downloads. It depends what you are after.